Day 4: Paul Weller Month
Day 4 of Paul Weller Month, and I'm inadvertently giving off the vibe that I'm heavily slanted towards Weller's blue period but it's the t'internet that makes me do it. I can only work with the googled materials at hand.
Shame on the now defunct Smash Hits if it's really case, but I can't seem to find an issue of Smash Hits featuring The Jam on the front cover. Biggest band in Britain at their height and glory, and google image search will only throw up innumerable grainy images of the same Department S front cover over and over again.
Surely Bruce Foxton wasn't considered that uneasy on the eye for Neil Tennant and 11 year olds from Telford back in the day? I'll swear blind that I saw Flock of Seagulls on a Smash Hits front cover once . . .and afterwards swore because I wasn't blind after bearing witness to Mike Score's haircut.
As it is, I'm confined to a Tracie & Paul Weller cover that dates from March 1983 and a Style Council cover from May 1985. I'd love to know if there are other Weller Smashed covers out there. (Anoraks in Parkas can contact me via the comments box.)
And before anyone scoffs about Weller and the Smash Hits connection - thinking that such pop magazines would have been beneath him back in his earnest Jam days - I understand that Tracie first got the gig with The Jam - singing on their final single, Beat Surrender - after answering an advert he'd placed in the very same Smash Hits.
With regards to that March 1983 Weller and Tracie front cover, the context is that The Style Council's debut single, 'Speak Like A Child', had just entered the top ten and Tracie was also riding high in the charts with her solo single, 'The House That Jack Built', that had been released on Weller's own record label, Respond Records.
Believe or not, I can remember this issue of Smash Hits, actually buying it at the time. Not because Weller was on the front cover. ( I'd yet to succumb to his charms and I honestly can't remember reading his interview.) No, I bought it because of the free Culture Club/Wham double sided poster that's advertised at the bottom of the front cover.
I was still really into Culture Club at the time - the woeful Karma Chameleon had yet to reach my ears - and they were the first band I can remember really, really getting into. However, confession time, (admitting to liking early Culture Club doesn't qualify as a confession, it qualifies as good taste, btw) I do seem to remember that I played closer attention to the Wham side of the poster. Maybe it was my burgeoning political conscience that had been kick started into life with the social commentary of their second top ten single, 'Wham Rap!' More likely, then as now, I was smitten by Dee C Lee, and before she got the Style Council gig, she started out in Wham and is featured in the poster alongside George Michael, Shirley and David Baddiel.
The Smash Hits front cover from 1985 featuring The Style Council? What can I tell you. It's inserted into the post as a bit of padding, a bit of texture so that I can allow myself to include the sub-Proustian moment with Dee C Lee in the Wham poster back in '83 as part of the Paul Weller Month. By '85 I wouldn't have been buying Smash Hits because I was either a snot, skint or more likely I'd just discovered that Record Mirror featured pop stuff, obscure stuff and more charts than you shake a biro at. My inner geek had seized control of my pop sensibility and by this stage it was as much about poring over the charts as listening to them.
With regards to that front cover from '85, I will say as an aside that it's nice to see that Loose Ends were featured in that issue. 'Hanging On A String' is one of the lost soul classics from the mid-eighties and, if and when, I get my fileden account out of deep freeze I'll post the track on the blog.
Memo to self: remember, this is supposed to be Paul Weller Month. The exploration of self-monomania can be the subject of every other month on the blog . . . as per the norm.